Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Few Basic Facts About Constipation

At sometime or the other in a person's life they are bound to become constipated. This may last for a short period of time or it may be for a long period of time. In this latter instance, it is advisable to consult your physician. It is a condition hard to describe. Sometimes, people may think they are constipated but they really are not. Constipation could be a condition in itself or it could also be an early warning sign that something more serious is taking place in one's system.

It is the thought that having a bowel movement every day is the normal thing and is the essential thing. This is not necessarily true, as each person will have a different routine according to various reasons, including the food they eat, exercise and other factors.

A doctor's definition of constipation would be - the lack of a bowel movement for more than three consecutive days. However, a patient would see constipation in a different light and would say they are constipated if they had any of the following symptoms:

. The stools are large and difficult to pass
. Hard stools
. Infrequent passing of stools
. It hurts when passing stools

Causes of constipation

. Certain medication taken to treat ailments can result in constipation. Medication with Calcium, Aluminum and Iron in them causes constipation. Certain antidepressants can cause constipation. The substance Codeine contained in pain relievers bring about constipation. The above are just a few.
. Not eating a well balanced diet can also brings about constipation. A diet high in meats, eggs, dairy products, rich desserts and various other sweets too can cause constipation.
. Lack of exercise or inactivity is another cause for this condition.
. Traveling can be another cause, as sometimes when a person is comfortable only in using their own toilet and feels uncomfortable in using an outside toilet, they postpone going and therefore become constipated.
. Imaginary constipation when people are really not. This condition is said to be very common. People think they have to pass stools on a daily basis and if they do not they imagine that they are constipated.
. People abuse the use of laxatives sometimes and this can lead to constipation. This is because, as a habit, they take a laxative to pass a stool and become dependent on it when finally the intestines loses its sensitivity and does not work properly anymore.
. Pregnancy can be another cause owing to hormonal changes and also as a result of the intestine being narrowed as the fetus grows thereby blocking the stools from passing through.
. Postponing having a bowel movement. This usually happens when one is too busy and keeps putting off in having a bowel movement or it maybe due to another reason like unfamiliar surroundings.
. Insufficient intake of water or liquids.
. A bad case of vomiting and diarrhea can cause loss of body salts resulting in constipation.
. Certain diseases too can bring about a constriction in the intestine thereby blocking the passage of stools. Examples are tumors, scarring and inflammation of the intestine. Also another cause is the presence of fissures and hemorrhoids (piles).
. Certain diseases like diabetes, depression and a low level of the thyroid hormone.
. Another very common cause is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is a condition where a person develops a series of spasms in the colon thereby delaying the speed with which the intestine contents move through the digestive canal resulting in constipation.
. Injuries to the spinal cord can affect the nerves that lead to the intestine.

How does one avoid constipation?

. Eat a well balanced diet high in fiber, fruits and veggies.
. Exercise on a regular basis.
. When you get the inclination, you should go to the toilet. Do not postpone it.
. Drink plenty of water, fruit juices, vegetable juices and plenty of other clear liquids.
. Train yourself to go at a particular time after breakfast preferably or after dinner.
. Do not misuse laxatives. They should be taken only on your physician's recommendation.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Constipation

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